OpinionMiddle East

Iran drastically speeds up nuclear program, US sits idly by

The Biden administration urgently needs to take decisive action to curb Iran's aggressive nuclear advancements.

The inside of an uranium conversion facility just outside the city of Isfahan, about 254 miles south of Tehran, Iran, in 2005. Photo by Getty Images.
The inside of an uranium conversion facility just outside the city of Isfahan, about 254 miles south of Tehran, Iran, in 2005. Photo by Getty Images.
Majid Rafizadeh
Majid Rafizadeh

The International Atomic Energy Agency recently issued an unusually jarring warning, highlighting a development in Iran’s nuclear program. IAEA inspectors confirmed that, for the first time, Iran has commenced the process of feeding uranium gas into three cascades of advanced IR-4 and IR-6 centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment facility. These cascades, which consist of multiple centrifuges working in unison, increase the efficiency of uranium enrichment by spinning the uranium gas at extremely high speeds, allowing Iran to enrich it at a much faster rate and significantly reducing the time required to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran is already enriching uranium to 84%, alarmingly close to the 90%, “weapons grade” level. Iran therefore may well be on the brink of acquiring the necessary material for nuclear bombs.

Iran’s rapid advancement of its nuclear weapons program comes at a time when the Biden administration not only seems inactive regarding the threat—it appears to be saving all its muscle for Israel—but actively supporting the actions of groups that back terrorism. These efforts include the Taliban in Afghanistan—who were gifted billions in state-of-the-art U.S. military equipment and a $773 million U.S. embassy—Qatar with its Al Udeid airbase, Hamas amid its war with Israel and Iran itself, which has been shooting at U.S. servicemen and using Yemen’s Houthis to close off shipping in the Red Sea.

By waiving sanctions on Iran, the Biden administration has effectively provided the regime with an estimated $100 billion. Worse, the Biden administration has turned a blind eye to Tehran’s destabilizing and aggressive policies, both within the region and without.

Those policies include Iran’s ongoing support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthis. The combination of financial aid and lack of accountability has bolstered Iran to pursue its nuclear weapons ambitions with increased fervor, fueling wars in Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq; and recently killing three U.S. troops and wounding at least 186 others, 130 of whom suffered traumatic brain injuries. Iran has also effectively closed off all commercial shipping in the Red Sea, forcing ships to detour around Africa.

Other than that, Iran has clearly “come in from the cold” and is behaving as an ideal neighbor.

Israeli Knesset member Avigdor Liberman, a former defense minister, recently made a disturbing statement during an interview with Israel’s Army Radio. He warned that Iran is “planning a Holocaust for us in the next two years.” The declaration underscores the immediacy of the threat. This unsetting prediction is consistent with the Iranian regime’s longstanding, deeply ingrained religious prophecy that envisions the complete annihilation of Israel.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has explicitly articulated his vision for Israel’s destruction in his 416-page book, “Palestine.” This manifesto serves as a detailed guide to eliminating Israel, often referred to by the regime as “The Little Satan,” and vehemently condemns the United States, referred to as “The Great Satan.” Khamenei’s book and the regime’s rhetoric highlight the persistent hostility that underpins Iran’s actions toward Israel.

Iran appears to have accelerated its nuclear program for several reasons. First, the regime sees an opportunity thanks to the Biden administration’s inaction and perceived weakness. Second, there is likely a looming fear within the regime that former President Donald Trump, known for his stringent “maximum pressure policy” on Iran, might return to power in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Third, Iran, with one exception—on April 13, 2024, when for the first time, the regime itself attacked Israel with more than 300 missiles and drones—has intensified its conflict with Israel by utilizing its proxies.

From the Iranian leadership’s point of view, possessing nuclear weapons would significantly strengthen their position and finally secure a “complete victory” over Israel. Last, by acquiring nuclear weapons, the regime could also equip its proxies—Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis—with these weapons to use against Israel, to spare Iran the indignity of being hit back. Using its proxies as its “human shields” allows Iran’s regime to maintain plausible deniability, so it can continue hiding behind them while escalating the real threat to Israel, which is Iran itself.

The Biden administration urgently needs to take decisive action to curb Iran’s aggressive nuclear advancements. The United States needs to stop its current practice of waiving sanctions on Iran and start reimposing—and enforcing—severe sanctions on the country’s oil and gas industry. Washington also needs to cut off the financial flow to the regime by imposing secondary sanctions: any country that does business with Iran may not do business with the United States. Such measures are critical to limiting Iran’s resources and hindering its ability to further its nuclear program.

If Iran persists in its uranium enrichment activities, the United States might consider targeting the training bases of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its oil refineries or some of the many other possible targets, to delay or dismantle its nuclear capabilities.

U.S. failure to act will only lead (and soon) to a nuclear-armed Iran, significantly upending global stability and providing a potential vacuum for America’s adversaries to fill.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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